A new and exciting phenomenon in the entertainment world is the concept of the web series. It is, in many ways, the video version of independent publishing. The good news is that it eliminates the traditional gatekeepers that used to keep good actors, writers, directors, and producers out of the business in favor of established figures. There is no bad news. It’s a meritocracy. If it’s good, people share it and it grows. If it’s bad, it fizzles.
I’m excited to say that I’ve discovered a web series that definitely merits sharing. It’s called Karmic and it’s the brain-child of our own Scarlet Sheppard. By way of full disclosure, I know and love Scarlet, so I may be a tad prejudiced, but I still know good acting and production values when I see them. And this show has those. It’s the story of three young women in California as they try to make their way in the world. They couldn’t be more different, but they form a bond that somehow works. It is, in many ways, The Golden Girls for the 21st century—and that’s not completely a coincidence. “I think The Golden Girls was subconsciously my main inspiration,” Sheppard said, “even though the realization didn’t hit me until we were a couple of episodes in.” The intent was not to recreate the iconic series, “but the idea of a group of women coming to live together out of necessity and then forming a kind of family is certainly there.”
It all started, according to Sheppard, as a college project, in which, “our main assignment for the class was to write a two-person scene,” she said. “Then the teacher would choose half of them to be filmed with us as the actors…” Unfortunately, hers didn’t get chosen for filming. But that didn’t daunt our star, who has never been one to allow obstacles to slow her down. “Cut to a year later, I was cast alongside actresses Melanie Price and Jessica Sabatini in a web series that had to be indefinitely postponed.” The three hit it off instantly and Sheppard had the idea of building her scene into a series starring her two new friends and her.
Sheppard plays Sage, a full-on hippie who is living in a park after being fired from her job as a yoga instructor. Sage meets Margot (Price), a fashion student, when the latter runs a stop sign and hits the former with her car, knocking her off her bike. Not the best way to start a friendship, but it works out, I promise. Long story short, Margot, without consulting her roommate Josie (Sabatini), offers to take Sage in.
Sheppard’s initial intent was modest enough. “Originally, I just wanted to make something fun with my talented friends and get us all résumé material. I also wanted to hone my writing, directing and editing skills.” But the show seems to have struck a chord, finding an enthusiastic following and even garnering recognition at independent film festivals, so a second season is already well into the planning phase. “Our goal now,” Sheppard told me, “is to go bigger and better. Fans have been asking us whether or not there would be a second season, so we have a plan fully in place for that.”
I strongly recommend that you give Karmic a watch. The production values are spot-on and the acting and writing are at or above the quality you’ll find on TV now. And I’m not just saying that because of my relationship to the star. I was a theater major in college, have acted in and directed numerous shows, and have been a lover and critic of all things drama for a long time, so I really am qualified to tell you that this is a production of quality in every respect. The first season can be found on YouTube, where it has its very own channel. Just search for the title. Each episode is only about ten minutes long, but there are enough laughs to fill a full half-hour episode. And this is from someone who is firmly twenty years past their target audience. I’m completely confident you’ll fall in love with these quirky young ladies who, despite their disparate personalities, become sisters. And if you like it—or just want to support aspiring filmmakers because it’s a noble thing to do—seriously consider contributing to their Kickstarter campaign, with which they plan to fund season 2. For more information or to support the cause, go to their Kickstarter page. Hurry, though. The campaign ends on August 9th. I’m sure you will be happy to help them out when you see their enthusiastic presentation.
Joe Stephens is a National Board Certified Teacher at Parkersburg High School. He was a 2005 recipient of the Milken National Educator Award. He has a bachelor’s degree from Glenville State College and a master’s from Walden University. His third novel, In the Shadow, is now available on Amazon.